Young doctor's "dangerous working hours" forces WC Health to find alternatives

Following the death of a young medical intern Ilne Markwat, CapeTalk's John Maytham speaks to Head of the Western Cape Department of Health, Dr Beth Engelbrecht.

According to reports, Markwat's death was related to extreme exhaustion. She allegedly fell asleep while driving home after working a very long shift at Paarl Hospital.

Dr Engelbrecht says the department is aware that the junior doctors are not happy with the prescribed working hours. She says at the start of the two year internship, the department met with junior doctors and discussed the hard work they would be doing and explained the support systems that were in place to assist them.

We tell them if you feel you cannot cope, there are systems, mechanisms and processes in place to give you assistance

Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of the Western Cape Department of Health

Engelbrecht said they met with the junior doctors on Monday to discuss ways of working around the shifts, so that these young doctors are able to get sufficient rest.

We need to start working as a province to see what can be done differently

Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of the Western Cape Department of Health

She says some hospitals in the province have started implementing a roster system for young doctors. The department will review the results of this system, and hopefully implement it across the province.

Listen to the full conversation below:

John Maytham also spoke to Dr John Ross about young doctors working hours. Listen below:


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